A true flagship Android experience- Technology News, Firstpost
Ameya DalviDec 23, 2022 17:31:51 IST
– Premium build and design
– IP68 ingress protection
– Great camera performance
– Best Android 13 experience
– Sharp 120 Hz display
– Good overall performance
– Slow charging; no charger in the box
– Moody fingerprint sensor
– Only 128 GB storage option available
Price: Rs 84,999
When was the last time Google officially launched a flagship Pixel smartphone in India? Don’t bother googling that. While we got the economy variant from the Pixel 6 series here earlier this year, the tech giant has decided to grace us with not just the Pixel 7 but also the top of the line Pixel 7 Pro, and pretty much with the rest of the world this time. The latter has been keeping us company for the past month or two, and today we intend to tell you everything you need to know about it.
Google Pixel 7 Pro Design: Feels premium but it’s quite a handful
The build quality of the Pixel 7 Pro is quite solid, and it feels premium courtesy of an aluminium frame and glass back. The screen as well as the glass back curve around the edges and blend seamlessly into the frame. Both are protected against scratches by a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass Victus. It is prone to fingerprints, though they are probably more conspicuous on the Obsidian black variant that we received. Adding to the sturdiness is an IP68 rating for dust and fluid resistance.
The camera band from the Pixel 6 series has been carried forward here. While it makes the phone design distinct in comparison to rival brands, I haven’t been too fond of the protrusion. It not only makes the phone look thicker but there is a noticeable amount of dust accumulation at its base. While the weight distribution is pretty decent, the phone does feel a tad heavy in hand and weighs in excess of 200 grams. The larger screen also makes it a handful.
As is the case with its predecessor, the volume rockers as well as the power button are placed along the right edge. The placement of the in-display fingerprint scanner is just right, and one can access it without stretching the thumb much. However, the scanner is quite moody, and at times simply wouldn’t recognise my fingerprint. The SIM tray is located along the left edge of the phone while a USB-C port and the speaker are present along the bottom edge. Like most flagship phones, a memory card slot and 3.5 mm headphone jack are absent.
Google Pixel 7 Pro Display: Sharp high-res display with 120 Hz refresh rate
The Google Pixel 7 Pro has a large 6.7-inch QHD+ LTPO AMOLED display with a resolution of 3120 x 1440 pixels and peak brightness of 1500 nits. The HDR10+ compliant screen is quite sharp with excellent colour reproduction and contrast. You do not get elaborate colour adjustments here. You just get two modes – Adaptive and Natural. The former makes the colours look slightly more vivid while the latter is pretty much what the name suggests. The difference is not as big as in OnePlus phones and both modes are worth trying and deliver good results depending on your taste.
It also has a 120 Hz refresh rate that makes scrolling smooth and flicker free. However, I am not sure it lowers the rate below 60 Hz even in content that does not need as high a refresh rate. As I touched upon earlier, you get a curved display which some people do not prefer. I personally have no issues with it as there were no untowards incidents due to it and it also lends a more premium feel to the design. Always on display is available here if you prefer it. Given the size of the display, single handed operation is out of question for most parts.
Google Pixel 7 Pro Performance: The Google Tensor 2 chip may not be a chart-topper but is potent enough
The Pixel 7 Pro is powered by Google’s second generation Tensor 2 processor. It still isn’t as powerful as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chips as per synthetic benchmarks. In fact, it is only incrementally faster than the last Tensor chip. Not factoring in its AI crunching capabilities, one can place the raw performance of the Tensor 2 close to Qualcomm’s previous flagship Snapdragon 888 SoC; not chart-topping but sufficiently powerful.
Just like its predecessor, the Tensor 2 breezes through day to day tasks like accessing social media or chat apps, watching videos, browsing the internet, opening multiple tabs or switching between them. Things were equally smooth in photography and gaming too at high graphics settings in games. The phone generally stays cool in most tasks but does get warm after 30 minutes of gaming, but nothing alarming. You get just one variant of this phone here with 12 GB RAM and 128 GB UFS 3.1 storage. We would have preferred a 256 GB option given that it is the company’s flagship.
We ran a few synthetic benchmarks and compared it to the Pixel 6a to gauge the difference in performance between the two generations of Tensor chips. In Geekbench 5, the Pixel 6a scored 1052 and 2872 in the single-core and multi-core tests respectively. Interestingly, the Pixel 7 Pro scored exactly the same in the single-core test and 13% higher (3252) in the multi-core test. There was a noticeable jump in PCMark Work 3.0 benchmark score with the 6a and 7 Pro scoring 9818 and 11459 respectively.
To test the gaming capabilities, we ran the Wild Life and Wild Life Extreme tests from the 3DMark suite, and the Pixel 6a scored 6358 (average FPS: 38.10) and 2092 (average FPS: 12.50) as compared to 6548 (average FPS: 39.20) and 1843 (average FPS: 11). The comparable or slightly lower scores may be attributed to the significantly higher resolution display on the Pixel 7 Pro. Benchmark scores apart, the 7 Pro managed to run every game we tried on it smoothly without a stutter.
This phone has two speakers, one behind the earpiece and the other at the base of the phone. Collectively they produce a fairly loud sound output with a surprisingly good stereo separation. The phone is Bluetooth 5.2 compliant and has tri-band WiFi with support for a/b/g/n/ac/6e standards. We had no reason to complain about the call quality or reception during the course of our testing.
Google Pixel 7 Pro Battery performance: Average battery life with slow charging
The battery backup on the Pixel 7 Pro is decent but not special. The 5000 mAh battery lasts for a full day of moderate use, which is acceptable. The charging times remain horribly slow for this age. If you use a generic 10W charger, the phone takes close to 3 hours to charge fully. Even popular Super VOOC/ Super DART fast chargers from Oppo or OnePlus can only deliver a 5V/2A output for the Pixel 7 Pro. And Google does not include a charger in the bundle. The phone does support 23W fast charging using USB-PD 3.0 chargers, and I was obsessed to figure out how fast.
So we got a couple of compatible chargers from Stuffcool; the Neo 45 and Flow 30 to be specific. The former can deliver 20W and 25W USB-PD output, while the latter can go up to 30W. The best we could get for charging the Pixel 7 Pro from 5% to 100 was 1 hour and 45 minutes. While the speed is nowhere close to the proprietary solutions from most brands these days, it is still a marked improvement over the 3 hours using a 10W charger. Ironically, the three premium-most brands – Apple, Google and Samsung have the slowest charging times in the market.
Google Pixel 7 Pro Camera performance: Some of the best cameras you currently get
You get three cameras at the back that cover all the major bases. There’s a 50MP primary camera with Laser auto-focus and optical image stabilisation (OIS), a 48MP telephoto camera with OIS that provides you with up to 5X optical zoom and 30X digital zoom; more on that in a bit. Giving them company is a 12MP ultra-wide camera with 126-degrees FOV and auto-focus that also doubles up as a macro camera. With a combination of hardware and software/ AI/ ML, the Pixel 7 Pro captures excellent shots across various modes and lighting.
The main camera captures some impressive shots in bright as well as low light conditions. The colours are pretty much like that of the actual subject and the contrast is excellent, as has been the case with Pixel phones over the years. The camera scores extremely high in detail and dynamic range too. The same is applicable for low light photography. The phone automatically switches to Night Sight mode when the light is low and that brightens up the image without going overboard or compromising on the detail.
The portrait shots have always been a standout feature on Pixel phones, and they are great here too with near perfect foreground and background separation. You cannot manually adjust the level of background blur, but you don’t need to bother as the phone gets it right on its own. You do get a 2X zoom option in Portrait mode too, which is quite handy. Speaking of zoom, time to talk about the 48MP telephoto camera that lends you a different level of flexibility.
You can get up to 5 times closer to the subject with the 5X optical zoom, and the OIS compensates for a few hand shakes quite well, resulting in impressive clicks. The Pixel 7 Pro flaunts a 30X digital zoom, something I would generally take with more than a pinch of salt, but not here. The AI and ML algorithms work their magic to deliver surprisingly good images at full 30X zoom. Mind you, they aren’t as good as the images captured using optical zoom, but they are far better than anything with that level of digital zoom. Check our camera samples to understand better.
The 12MP ultra-wide camera is quite good when the light is good, and the colours and dynamic range are comparable to the main camera. But when the light is low, it is better to use the main camera for best results. As I mentioned earlier, the ultra-wide camera has auto-focus, and that lets you capture macro shots too from up close. When you get closer to a subject, the phone automatically switches to macro mode. The macro shots come out quite well, and way better than most dedicated 2MP and 5MP macro cameras that you get on several midrange phones.
The 10.8MP front camera does a good job with selfies, and the skin tones look natural. It has a fairly broad FOV and supports portrait shots too that come out quite well. This phone can record 4K videos at 30 and 60 fps, and you can go as high as 240 FPS for 1080p videos. You get OIS and EIS support to compensate for the shakes. Google hasn’t bothered with 8K video recording on this phone, but can record 4K footage at 30 or 60 fps with the front camera as well. The recorded videos from the rear cameras are sharp and stabilised but I wouldn’t term them as industry leading.
Click here for unedited camera samples.
OS and user interface: As good as its gets on Android by a distance
The Google Pixel 7 Pro arrived with Android 13 and after a couple of updates now runs the latest iteration with the December 2022 security patch. As with all Pixel devices, you get pure Android experience without any bloatware, and with the Material You design language. The user interface is fluid, totally lag free and void of any major bugs. This is by far the best Android 13 experience I have had on any device thus far. Due to extended exposure to OxygenOS 13, this probably seemed even better and refreshing.
Pixel phones are as much about the software experience as the hardware. And that also includes the camera output as I touched upon earlier. Like in the case of the Pixel 6a, you get some cool tools to edit images on the fly. The Magic Eraser and Camouflage options seem to have improved further, especially the former. The Eraser lets you remove objects or humans from the images within seconds by simply circling or highlighting them. It is still not perfect, but produces perfectly acceptable results after a couple of attempts as you can see in the photo.
You also get face unlock on the Pixel 7 Pro, but I would term it as work in progress. I couldn’t fool it with cheap tricks but it is certainly nowhere as responsive or smart as Apple’s Face ID at the moment. You get a bunch of useful tools on this phone to play with that won’t beg for your attention, but the software and AI algorithm quietly do their job in the background. Be it object recognition using Google Lens or speech recognition/ voice typing, things just work without a murmur, and we tend to forget how cumbersome they have been on several other phones till now.
The Google Pixel 7 Pro is priced at Rs 84,999 in India with a one year warranty. By no means is it affordable, but after having used it for a considerable amount of time, I can safely say that the experience has been largely enjoyable. Despite the high price, it is still cheaper than its direct competitors like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra or the Apple iPhone 14 Pro. But unlike those two, Google does not offer a 256 GB or higher storage variant of the Pixel 7 Pro here.
Pixel phones are mostly about great cameras and the most updated version of Android, but the 7 Pro is a lot more than that. While it aces those two departments, the overall software experience is the finest I have come across on Android phones. The only thing Google truly needs to work on is a ‘real’ fast charging solution. If you are looking for a solid all-round flagship device comfortably under a lakh Rupees, the Pixel 7 Pro is a great choice. If you are mainly keen on the primary camera performance and software experience, the Pixel 7 might be a better choice for you for a good 25K less. Stay tuned for its long-term review.